After spending a few days in Bangkok and surrounding areas, we continued our trip to Cambodia. In Siem Reap, we joined my friend’s relatives who had been visiting other places in the peninsula. Together, we explored Angkor Archaeological Park, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Angkor was the capital of the Khmer empire from the 9th to the 15th centuries. It felt under Ayutthayan dominion in 1351. It was sacked in 1431 after the Khmer rebelled against Ayutthaya.
The complex is considered one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. The park covers approximately 400 square kilometers and there are thousands of structures. Exploring all its corners would take forever, so we focused in four of the main sites: Angkor Wat, Bayon Temple and the Terrace of Elephants in Angkor Thom, and Ta Prohm.
Angkor Wat is the biggest religious monument in the world. It was originally dedicated to to god Vishnu but later became a Buddhist temple. It is representative of high classical Khmer architecture.
My favorite site in the complex was Bayon Temple, in Angkor Thom. The south gate is the best preserved and it is simply spectacular. There are 54 sculptures representing the hindu myth of the churning of the ocean.
Bayon Temple was built in the 12th as the official state temple of the Buddhist King Jayavarman VII. It is well know for its many towers with smiling stone faces.
The terrace of elephants is part of the walled city of Angkor Thom. It was used for big public ceremonies. It gets its name for the carvings of elephants in the eastern side.
After lunch, we visited Ta Prohm. Unlike the other temples in Angkor, this one is pretty much in the same condition as it was found. The trees growing out of the ruins make it one of the most visited and photographed temples in the complex.
After Angkor, my friends continued traveling through Cambodia. Unfortunately, I couldn’t joined them for that portion of the trip. I had to go back to India where another adventure was already waiting for me.